Week 5

Commencing live tweeting on Japanese horror

Redmond (2013) discusses fetishism of the exotic and consuming the Other, Miike Takeshi the director of Audition is mentioned as a tester of (Western) decency. I know to some degree I have probably been involved in some exoticticising and consuming of the Other, however, through my research I seek to understand the origin of my interests and through this hopefully gather more of an idea of what it means to consume the Other.

My fandom of Japanese cinema is fairly recent and not very deep, I actually have a  bigger history of researching it academically than as just a naive observer, as it were. This concerns me because I think that it will impact how I view the films, in such a way that I may get caught up in analysing and then whatever I reflect may turn out to not be my genuine thoughts, but instead I would contrived them in a way that would avoid falling into the traps that I had previously read about.

Watching films and discussing it with friends has been for me something that happens after the event, however, so I can get more of perhaps an honest idea of what I think of the films I will be live tweeting as I watch them.

Narrowing my field of research to only Japanese horror was chosen mainly because it specifically has garnered a particularly large Western audience and I want to see if my tweets plus my research will give any indication as to why this is happening.

I have not chosen the films I will be watching yet, however, in the pursuit of the extreme only those that are reviewed as indubitably scary will make the cut.

It should be known that I was not always a thrill seeker of movies, mostly I liked to laugh and have thoughtful reflections, it was the study of film that brought out my desire for horror. Something about knowing more about how something is made I think makes you want to explore all the options it can offer.

My method includes tweeting what I see then reflecting on these tweets and this will then all be incorporated into a storify blog. I am using this platform particularly because it will make it easier to include other media sources that may become relevant while discovering insights.

I have experienced immersion I think in fandom culture once before, this was in music. Redmond (2013) talks of the director Kitano as being ‘a body-without-organs’ (p.11) and of his fluid existence in films by way refering to his celebrity identity that occupies many personas (‘grude comedian, film director, violent actor’) . It would be great if I could find out through my tweet analysis whether my identity, it being more solid than Kitano’s fluid one, was in fact able to be immersed or not. I would like to test this and watch it develop.

 

References

Redmond S 2013, The cinema of Takeshi Kitano; flowering blood, Columbia University Press, New York

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Gaming in the DRNK

In a regime as controlled as the Democratic Republic of North Korea I thought the concept of gaming culture would be non-existent. At best I expected to find an underground sub-culture who risks life and limb to engage in online and digital gaming. I started my investigation and found limited information to help confirm and expand my understanding of this culture in North Korea. There were some newspaper articles, such as The Telegraph’s, North Korea internet users ‘downloading Top Gear and porn’

(Tuesday 16 September 2014). This article mentioned the strict isolationist measures and speculated on the legitimacy of claims that games, TV shows and pornography had been downloaded from IP address within the country.

A Korean News article, Foreign laptops increasingly popular item for North Korean middle class (Phebe Kim, 10th July, 2014) discussed in detail the increasing movement of foreign laptops into North Korea and the fact that these were only available to the elite class of citizens who could afford the expensive items. The article quoted sources (defectors) who stated that video games were being played.

Computers are also popular with young people that watch DVDs, listen to music, and play video games. Jimin states, “As children of elite families] use more advanced computers to play games, they can be tempted to become like those game addicts that are often mentioned in South Korea.”

This information does not mention or allude to the existence of an underground gaming culture in North Korea but given the prodigious engagement of the western societies in the digital gaming environment it is only logical that this leaks into the North Korean society. Supporting this is the increasing engagement of neighboring countries – Japan, China and South Korea which makes access to contraband digital products less of an obstacle. In addition to this, I have already mentioned the public execution of citizens in North Korea for possessing copies of movie, TV and other foreign digital products. If people are going to risk persecution and death for old TV shows they certainly would for the digital gaming experience.

North Korea’s first video game –

Online commentators marveled at the backward design despite the existence of many online resources which would produce an infinitely better quality. North Koreas are definitely going underground for quality.

Melissa精彩

After much discussion, research and deliberation I have finally nutted out what I’m going to focus on for my autoethnography, and how I’m actually going to make Chinese social media autoethnographic. Autoethnography is explained as an approach to research that describes and analyses personal experience in order to understand cultural experience (Ellis, Adams & Bochner 2011), and in order to have a personal experience of the cultural experience of Chinese social media, I have created a Sina Weibo account. I have decided to use this account to investigate Chinese social media first hand and create a research report that aims to teach an Australian audience about social media in China, and more particularly about the platform Sina Weibo. Over the next few weeks I will be documenting my experience of the site, any challenges that occur and how the site and my interactions with it differ from my own Australian experience of social media.

I chose to create an account on Sina Weibo as it has 559million subscribed users worldwide, and 129m in China, making one of the most popular (wearesocial 2014). Also there is an English version of the app, which will allow me to have a more realistic experience of China’s social media landscape with 73% of Weibo users accessing the site through mobile devices (wearesocial 2014). The app itself is just an English interface, meaning it doesn’t actually translate the posts, so to actually read posts on the site I need to use Google chrome and its translation feature on my laptop. The signup process was relatively similar to that of Twitter, however I found the verification code harder to crack than normal. Also due to the emphasis placed on the use of mobile devices, I was required to enter my mobile number to gain another verification code via text. The extra emphasis placed on security I assumed could be attributed to the level of internet security China exhibits due to its extreme censorship, or it could just suggest that our social media sites are not so secure.

My name on Sina Weibo is Melissa精彩 , this was suggested and I translated the characters and they mean wonderful, so for the next five weeks I will be known to Sina Weibo users as this. Language and my location became a barrier to my sign up experience as not all writing translated and often Australia was not listed as an option. I had to put an area code in front my phone number, Google the characters for gender, translate my name to Chinese characters for the site to recognise it as a ‘real name’ and put my school as ‘other’ due to no Australian schools being listed, despite it being an option on the initial sign up page, which suggests that there is very few Australian users of the site. However, I made it through and my profile can be viewed here. Feel free to check up on account and give me some feedback on my progress, or even better create an account and join me for the journey.

Sources:

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview’, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. http://www.qualitativeresearch.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

wearesocial, 2014, Social, Digital & Mobile in China 2014′, wearesocial, viewed 4/9/14 <http://www.slideshare.net/wearesocialsg/social-digital-mobile-in-china-2014&gt;

My own hentai digital artefact

I think the process of turning my autoethnographic study into a digital artefact will really bring to a head all the tensions I’ve been having with this topic. I have to find a way to channel the aspects of this study that challenge my ideas of what I consider, as a Western feminist, appropriate representations of men and women, but also express it in a way that I feel comfortable sharing with my peers, i.e nothing too graphic that could offend someone.

I feel there are a lot of questions that need to be asked about how this genre might contribute to the patriarchy and gender stereotypes, and what the implications of this are given that hentai is animated material, not real life.  Hentai, at least the correct Japanese manifestation of it which means perverse, produces some truly disturbing and profane material. Exploring this within my own digital artefact will be interesting.

I’m thinking I’d like to create some parodies of the genre, perhaps with clear role reversals, but my drawing skills are, and I’m being generous here, limited. Though that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do some kind of digital collage. Or I could even take an existing video and subtitle/dub it with an altogether different dialogue that subverts the original meaning.  Maybe even get some of my friends involved and do an improvised, collaborative re-dub.

I also think that it’s reached that time in the autoethnographic study arc that I begin to engage with some online communities. Since this methodology requires that the researchers themselves are a primary participant, and that in regards to hentai the online forums abound, I believe I should leave the periphery and cautiously edge my way in.

For an example of what I potentially have in mind here’s a parody dub from the Dark Knight…

공동체 (community)

Thinking of a way to turn my research of South Korean culture and Eat Your Kimchi into a Digital Artefact was proving to be quite difficult for me. I wanted to convey my identity as a fan and investigator of EYK, my fascination with South Korean culture, and my autoethnographic experience in a way that I myself could be interested in. My experience with the production and editing of videos, creation of code, and the production and compiling of music is quite limited, so those weren’t viable options for me. I also found it a little difficult to push my mind past the examples that we have seen so far, such as tumblr blogs, Sabato Visconti’s Glitch Artworks, playlists and collations of videos or pictures, or subreddits, as I didn’t feel that any of these fit what I wanted to convey.

It is clear to me that the Eat Your Kimchi fan community has been incredibly important in the success of the blog, as without their fans, Simon and Martina (the couple who make the content for EYK, along with business manager Soo Zee and intern Leigh) may have found it much more difficult to remain in South Korea beyond teaching. The fan community supported their transition to full-time YouTubers in 2 ways

  1. YouTube offered EYK a monetary partnership when their channel surged in popularity as their subscribers/fans grew substantially around 2010
  2. Simon and Martina had their IndieGogo campaign successfully funded by their fan community (a total of approx. $113 000), which allowed them to apply for a South Korean business licence and rent an apartment closer to the centre of Seoul (the capital of South Korea)

Looking at this wave of success that the EYK crew have been riding since they started blogging in 2008, it’s really obvious to me that there’s a lot of love, passion and curiosity coursing through the veins of the EYK fan community. When looking at the EYK community and how it is represented digitally over many different platforms (Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit and on their blog), I find it equally as worthwhile to mine through the comments sections as consuming original EYK. There so much to learn from these spaces. Not only do they provide added ethnographic context to EYK’s observations on South Korean culture and entertainment, but they also build upon the opinions and ideas offered in the videos. These forums are, to me, a comprehensive representation of the majesty and power of a fan community (already well-represented by their ability to keep EYK going through funding), reflecting the quality and insight of the EYK content.

In order to capture this ecology I have decided to design a blog in which I will reflect on my personal understanding and learning, following my observation of these spaces. I hope to design a Digital Artefact that provides a visual representation of my observations and interpretations, whether it be through a graphic, word visualisation or other performance medium, showcasing various comments, the original EYK content, and my derived autoethnographic experience.

 

Week 5: J-Pop’s Industrial Production Culture

My ideas for the individual digital artefact are still quite loose whilst staying within a singular concept. I have been strongly inspired by J-Pop as some of you may have noticed by the fact that I have used it as a lens for the weekly discussion posts. As I have been exploring it in this way I have found myself drawn to the culture of industrial production of the “genre”. I would like to investigate this further through the artefact. For a mode of interaction I have been strongly inspired by a community set up by a British record label Night Slugs, called Club Constructions. They set up a simple web page where producers can contribute tracks for consideration; these tracks however have to conform loosely to a manifesto that Night Slugs have established. This manifesto describes the sound and elements of the track for example the tracks should contain as little melody as possible three notes maximum.

I would like to create a community similar to this though incorporating the ideas I have had into it’s structure are where it gets difficult. The first question is whether the tracks should be able to be seen by others as inspiration for further contributions. In the further research I have conducted so far, it seems as if the Club Constructions set up of invisible contributions might better mirror j-pop’s industrial culture or at least elements discussed in the Guardian, where the simple contributions are compiled by “the producer” whose name is the only one attributed by the track. This dilemma highlights questions as to how blatant the discussion of the industrial culture needs to be within the community which might be confirmed through further research, should the culture be perpetuated externally or internally? It seems as if the project might manifest itself as a commentary on the industrial production culture rather than a mirror of it, questions arising such as how can you sustain a culture of contribution in an environment where the majority of people want to be producers? Do they need to be a more active part of the development of the product?

Tumblr, Fanart and Immersion

A little late on the week 5 post, I know, but I’ve been super busy this week arting. Yes, arting is now a verb. I figured if I’m going to be focusing my auto-ethnography on Pokemon fan art, then I might as well immerse myself in the subject and actually have a go at making some of my own fan art, which is something I’ve never done. 

I’m not an artist by any means, but I do like to draw. The last time I did an art class was in year 10, and I haven’t really picked up a pencil (or paintbrush) since.This past week I’ve managed to do a few drawings of some of my childhood favourites and I will be posting these on my DIGC330 Tumblr blog/digital artefact

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My first attempt at making fan art :’)

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Without looking at any academic literature and based solely on this past week’s experience, I’m starting to understand why people might invest so much time and energy into creating amazing fan art; It’s fun! I feel that making art somehow immerses you into the Pokemon world in a way that the games can’t. As I’ve been sketching Pikachu, Mew and Dawn (from the anime series) I feel as though with each pencil line, I am translating my experience of the character into some sort of visual language, something that then other artists or fans of the Pokemin universe will be able to comprehend . Since beginning this excercise, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the time and effort that goes into making Pokemon artwork, because, not gonna lie, I’ve spent more than a few hours trying to make art myself!

I’d like to explore this more over the next few weeks and maybe have a look at a few of the genres and mediums used in Pokemon art and see if this says anything significant about the way  people interact with or perceive Pokemon content. 

SBS PopAsia: The Fandoms


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This week I tried to flip the coin so to speak and look at the culture of Asian pop fandoms as opposed to the Asian popstars and performers I’ve largely been looking at up until now. To be more specific I decided to narrow in on the peripheral fandoms that tune in every week to watch the Australian Asian pop music video show SBS PopAsia. A big part of every week’s countdown is Tweeting along with the episode using the hashtag #SBSPopAsia, which is used to play games, nominate artists/songs as well as create an actively vocal audience whose Tweets are cherry picked for screen time during the episode (SBS PopAsia HQ 2014). In the hopes of better understanding the fandom I decided to tweet along in the hashtag during the episode and collate some examples of the fandom in action (shown above).

 

What were some of the key activities, conversations, or internal thoughts that I experienced today? (Sheridan)
My initial experience was bewilderment as a scrolling wall of tweets cycled rapidly across my screen, filled with the kind of ecstatic glee you might expect from a crowd at a live event. It becomes clear quite quickly that a lot of these fans tweeting along with the show are active participants in the fandoms of these pop artists outside of the bounds of the show, as most of them display a level of knowledge about the individual artists and performers that is not only absent from the show itself, but recalled rapidly in response to the events of the show. In other words, the reaction time of the tweets suggests this information is not being looked up beforehand. I did try contributing to the discussion, guessing which common element was present in the 3 songs they played consecutively and generally commenting on the songs as they played, but I found the experience largely distant. Things move too rapidly; with too much vigor and desperation to be noticed for the fans to engage with each other too much it seems. Although the one question I did ask the group actually received a response, even if it was just the one.

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What would I do differently next time if I researched the same group or event? (Sheridan)
I think that researching these fandoms properly will require looking at how they behave on the other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, that move much more slowly and with more of an air of contemplation. I approached this group expecting more of a conversation but instead I learnt that it was much more like a mass-aggregation of quick, yet vocal monologues.


 

References

Sheridan, R (n.d.), ‘Autoethnography: Researcher as Participant’, An Introduction to Autoethnography, viewed 31 August 2014 http://ricksheridan.netmar.com/auto/

SBS PopAsia HQ 2014, ‘Get Social with SBS PopAsia’, SBS PopAsia, viewed 31 August 2014 http://www.sbs.com.au/popasia/blog/2014/02/04/get-social-media-sbs-popasia